Friday, May 27, 2016
In the first place, as any long-time readers will know, I have very mixed feelings about the atomic bombings of Japan. Personally, I think that no matter whether you feel it was justified or unjustified, no one should be very strident about their opinion or dismissive of others on this issue. The use of nuclear weapons was such a monumentally horrific event that it bothers me a great deal that anyone could not be troubled by it on the one hand or be so dismissive of what not using it would have meant on the other. How does any leader sacrifice more of the lives of his own people in a conflict in which the outcome is in do doubt rather than save them by taking the lives of the enemy? I have often posed the question as to whether any Japanese Prime Minister could have lived with himself if he could have saved the lives of his people and ended the war by using devastating weapons against Los Angeles or Chicago. How could you look your own people in the eye after that when their husbands, sons or fathers were killed when you could have prevented it?
Of course, using the bombs was a terrible thing that caused immense death and lasting misery to huge numbers of innocent people. Do I regret that it happened? Certainly, just as I regret that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, attacked The Philippines, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, the East Indies and Australia. I regret that the war happened at all, not only because of how terrible it all was but because I regret the inevitable destruction of the Empire of Japan that this brought about. I regret the turmoil this brought about and the opening it gave for Marxist and radical murderous regimes as the “Bamboo Curtain” descended across East Asia. I wish none of it had happened but it did and dwelling on recriminations does not solve problems or, from what I have seen, make anyone feel any better about what happened. Saying you are sorry without doing something to make things right always seems hollow. Sometimes you cannot make things right and sometimes people try to make things right without saying they are sorry. Which is more important; actions or words? Would Japan have been better off with a post-war apology rather than the huge amounts of money the U.S. pumped into the country to rebuild Japan after the war?
Finally, while I am sure there are always exceptions that can be found, in general I am not big on apologies like these. I am not big on people apologizing for things that they themselves did not do. It makes little sense to me for someone to apologize on behalf of someone else to someone who did not actually suffer the harm being apologized for. In the same way, I have never been fond of the endless calls for Japan to apologize, over and over again, for the actions of previous generations there. What is the point of such apologies? Why make an apology that will not be accepted? Usually, concerning Japan, the typical response of China or Korea (the ones usually demanding apologies) is that the Japanese were not truly sincere in their apology. One could say the same about Obama. Would an apology from him mean that all or even most Americans are sorry that their grandfathers or great-grandfathers used atomic weapons on Japan? I doubt it.
In my opinion, if President Franklin D. Roosevelt were around today, there is much that I think he would have to apologize to Japan for. The same could be said for Secretary Hull. Would he ever do it? Probably not, nor would any of his partisans think that he should. Japan, likewise, did things for which they should be ashamed just as they are also accused of things which they did not do. Some will always think they should apologize more just as others will always think they are blameless and should apologize for nothing. At the end of the day, I do not see what is accomplished by it all. Perhaps it is because I see about 99% of everything any politician says as insincere blathering for the cameras but to me, it just seems like so much pointless picking at old wounds that revolve around issues about which everyone is never going to see eye-to-eye on. As such, I will refrain from joining in with such demands for apologies and save them for the people who are actually responsible for the things that should be apologized for.
Friday, May 20, 2016
|King Albert I of the Belgians
|Czar Nicholas II of Russia
|German Kaiser Wilhelm II
|Emperor Charles I of Austria-Hungary
Cases such as the last Czar of Russia or Emperor of Austria may be well known but for the others, sadly, their very open and devout Christian faith is all too often ignored. This should not be the case and, as can be seen, such faith, while not universal, was certainly not a rare exception. Today it can often seem like Christianity is banned from the halls of power, and often times it actually is, but it is then all the more important to remember that this was not always the case and it was not the case not all that long ago. Today, future monarchs are being raised in an environment very hostile to Christianity but even now there are still faithful Christians among the monarchs of Europe, even if they are not allowed to be very open about it. What is important, I think, to take away from all of this is our own responsibility. If we want God to give us good, Christian monarch as in days past, we might first try becoming a good, Christian public or at least aim to make an effort at such similar to how our forefathers did.
Friday, May 13, 2016
The Communist government's response sounded more like something Emperor Qianlong would have said, dismissing a British envoy. It is a sign of how bourgeois modern China has become and I'm sure Chairman Mao is spinning in his mausoleum that one of his successors as dictator of mainland China would ever have anything to do with "class enemy" like the British monarch. It would be only fair as I was rather distressed that Her Majesty would be called upon to receive a pseudo-Marxist tyrant like Xi Jinping in the first place. I thought the ladies of the Royal Family (excluding the Queen) went overboard with their red dresses and I applauded HRH the Prince of Wales for boycotting the state dinner, specifically to show his disdain for the Communist oppression of Tibet. Previously, the Prince also caused a stir by a less than flattering observation he made about the Red Chinese at the handover of the Crown Colony of Hong Kong. What should be the real scandal is the way the British political class have kowtowed to the Communist rulers of China *for decades* enduring far more from them than merely "rude" behavior.
Let the record show that in 1967 Chinese Red Guards attacked an invaded the British embassy in Peking, assaulting the people trapped inside to an extent some would call torture. The Communist government condoned the action and a similar attack on British officials in Shanghai. The same year, troops of the People's Liberation Army fired on British police officers in Hong Kong, killing five, an act most would consider an act of war. Chinese envoys even attacked British police officers in London and in 1982 Deng Xiaoping openly threatened to invade Hong Kong. Yet, after every outrage, the British government has looked the other way, given in to the demands of the Red bandits and gone on with normal diplomatic relations with them as though nothing had ever happened. The Queen was entirely accurate in her remark and, indeed, could have justly used even harsher language in describing such a despicable regime.
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
|Chongzhen, last official Ming emperor
|Oppose Qing and Restore Ming
|Three Harmonies Society
Whatever their motivations may have been, we are left with the basic fact that inveterate opposition to the Qing Dynasty seemed to outweigh loyalty to the Ming Dynasty and once the Qing Empire was gone, most former Ming loyalists accepted the less traditional systems of government that came after and abandoned any efforts to restore the Ming Empire in full. There seemed to be little, if any, support for the heir of the Ming Dynasty (discussed here earlier), the Marquis of Extended Grace, who lived in poor conditions and who remained loyal to the Qing Emperor throughout the republican period until the end of the Second World War by which point he disappears from the historical record. The republican government eventually withdraw all recognition and support for him and the later communist government went a step further and in their propaganda made a hero of the rebel Li Zicheng who overthrew the last Ming Emperor.
In summary, there were Ming loyalists who resisted in traditional fashion for as long as they could, until all were ultimately defeated and after that a smaller number still held on and continued to resist outside the bounds of the law, either as silent dissidents biding their time or members of organized crime. Unfortunately, the Qing Dynasty fell and the Ming Dynasty remained fallen as well. Are there any lingering Ming loyalists around today? I would hope so and with more than a billion Chinese people around the world the odds would be in favor of there being some, somewhere. I will close by saying, as carefully and prudently as I can, that in my view at least, taking back something that was stolen from you, even if outside the law of the land, is not wrong but right.
Saturday, May 7, 2016
David became best friends with King Saul’s son Jonathan and married King Saul’s daughter Michal but soon his great deeds and popularity made King Saul jealous of him. Saul arranged to have David killed but the young man thwarted or avoided every attempt on his life and fled from the court to lead his own private army, winning further fame and glory much to Saul’s dismay. It was also this period which demonstrates how David is an example in his loyalty to a monarch who not only harsh and unkind to him but actually tried repeatedly to have him killed. David twice had Saul at his mercy and could have easily killed him but refused to do so, despite the urgings of his followers, because to raise his hand against the King, God’s anointed one, would be a sacrilege. He did, however, point this out to Saul, that he could have killed him but chose not to, which caused even King Saul to confess that David was a better man than he, treating Saul with kindness where Saul had treated David with cruelty. Though finally forced to flee to enemy country, David nonetheless remains loyal to his people and King Saul and kills the messenger who tells him of Saul’s death, saying that “a great man has fallen” in the midst of battle. Of course, part of what had been troubling King Saul was the words of the Prophet Samuel telling him that he had lost favor with God and that his crown would pass to David.
Of course, for all of the praise King David receives, we are left in no doubt that he was still a mortal man with mortal weaknesses. As is, perhaps, not too surprising, this man who led armies into fierce, hand-to-hand combat, looked death in the face countless times and even triumphed over a giant that had cowed an entire army, was not strong enough to resist the temptations of a beautiful woman. That woman was Bathsheba, the wife of a soldier named Uriah. King David and Bathsheba have an affair and Bathsheba becomes pregnant by him. In an effort to cover up his misdeed, King David has Uriah recalled from the front immediately, thinking that he will sleep with his wife and later everyone will assume the baby is his. However, in keeping with the custom of the time, as a soldier on active duty, Uriah does not sleep with his wife and so, desperate to avoid being found out as an adulterer, David has him sent to the front to be exposed to the greatest danger and killed in battle. However, this does not go unnoticed, the Prophet Nathan admonishes King David and he ultimately confesses and repents of his misdeeds. His apology is sincere but there was still a price to be paid for his wrongdoing. When a number of horrors befell his children, a son rebelled against him and Saul loyalists in the north rebelled, it was all taken as divine retribution on King David for what he had done.
Because of how beloved King David was, known as the man after God’s own heart, God made a covenant with King David that was unprecedented. Numerous times throughout Biblical accounts, God made covenants with mankind, invariably with provisions that included the person or people doing something for God, such as keeping His commandments, in exchange for which God would grant some divine favor. However, the covenant with King David was the only such agreement God ever made that was unconditional. God promised to King David that he and all his descendants would have a “divine right” to rule over God’s people and that if any of them did wrong, while God would punish them for that, because of how beloved King David was, their divine right would never be taken away from them. Because of this, no other dynasty held such a sacred significance for the Jews as the House of David did. It is why prophecies of the future Messiah would be bound up with associations with the sacred royal line and why even long after the Kingdom of Israel was a distant memory, Christian monarchs in Europe still found it advantageous to trace their genealogy back to King David.
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
|HMAS Waller coming into Pearl Harbor
|JMSDF Oyashio-class submarine
|Malaysian submarine Tunku Abdul Rahman
|Dutch Walrun-class submarine surfacing
|Norwegian submarines in Bergen
|Spanish sub Tramontana
|Swedish submarine Gotland
|HMS Victorious, Vanguard-class SSBN
|HMS Ambush, Astute-class SSN
|HMS Astute, underway
|Russian Kilo-class sub purchased by Iran
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Warning: (because I know from past Facebook posts how much some people hate this stuff) This article deals with an *anime* and was written as a way of returning a favor. If you do not like this sort of thing, if you detest anime no matter what it is about or what genre it falls into, turn back now, don’t whine about it later.
Probably the one thing that stands out the most for me was how every episode kept you coming back for more, building upon what came before it to make you eager to know what happens next. And, it was not like some shows that have many cliffhangers followed by no satisfying pay-off. No, in “Code Geass” things actually happen. So, overall, I approve. You liked the characters you were supposed to like, hated the characters you were supposed to hate and most major characters were quite complex so that eventually you see that our “hero” Lelouch has his dark side and many of the villains are not without their good points either. Even if you still believe them to be very much the “bad guys”, you can at least understand how they see themselves as something totally different. Except for Suzaku. Everybody hates Suzaku. And everybody should. Anyway, down to the business of politics.
In the alternative version of history in which this story is set, the world is dominated by three major powers. One, about which the least is said, is the European Union or at least some sort of alternate version of it which, we are led to believe, operates along democratic republican lines. The second-largest power is the Chinese Federation which is a nominal monarchy though, we are led to believe, is still rather communist or socialist in economic terms. Finally the most powerful of the three is the aforementioned Holy Britannian Empire which is a capitalistic, aristocratic, militaristic absolute monarchy. From a famous speech given by the ruler of this empire fairly early in the series, Emperor Charles zi Britannia, this super-state seems to be based on royal absolutism and social-Darwinian capitalism. I have joked before that Emperor Charles could seem like the bastard child of King Louis XIV and Ayn Rand. At one point in the series we briefly hear a schoolteacher talking about the battle in which the last British monarch was defeated and from maps we see that Great Britain itself is part of the European Union while the Holy Britannian Empire is based on North America and North America is referred to by Britannians in Area 11 (Japan) as “the homeland”. So, it seems as though the Holy Britannian Empire, the “bad guys” is probably intended to represent the United States of America.
The defenders of the Holy Britannian Empire are certainly the “bad guys” in this show but I have something of a history of being sympathetic toward if not outright siding with the “bad guys” in any number of movies and television shows. Of course, as the villains, the Britannians do plenty of horribly cruel things throughout the series, to say nothing of what the ultimate secret plan of the Emperor is, which actually turns out to have nothing to do with politics or global domination really. They treat subject peoples horribly (our story is set in Japan but we are to assume that what we see is standard procedure in other conquered territories), rob them of their rights, stamp out their national identity, segregate them and sometimes massacre them. However, there is also another aspect which many people may find surprising which is that the Britannians are also very meritocratic. Suzaku, “an 11” (as Japanese people are called) is able to rise to the highest rank in the empire simply by his own ability. We see other characters who seem to be of different races (it can sometimes be hard to tell in an anime) who have risen to important positions by their own talents and are treated as is appropriate for whatever rank or station they hold. Likewise, some of the aristocrats we see are corrupt buffoons while all those holding positions of real importance show that they have talent to justify their being there.
|Prince Clovis finds peasants such a bother
As the villains of the series, though Lelouch himself is a Britannian prince, the Holy Britannian Empire does receive the most attention but I was also intrigued by what was told about the next largest rival of the empire on the world stage which was the Chinese Federation. Rather like how Britannia combines high-tech weapons and modern economics with barons, knights and sword play, the Chinese Federation seems to combine aspects of ancient as well as modern China. The nominal ruler is the childlike Empress (Tianzi) Jiang Lihua however, hearkening back to the days of the Han and Tang dynasties, it is the top court eunuchs that actually rule the federation. The empress herself is a mere figurehead who the eunuchs, we ultimately see, have no real reverence or even regard for at all, viewing her as ultimately dispensable. This is in stark contrast to Britannia where the Emperor is very much an absolute monarch and it is he who rules, usually through the persons of his many children.
|The Chinese Empress
All of this is not far-fetched when one considers that Chairman Mao’s fourth wife, Jiang Qing, once had several imperial gowns made for herself in preparation for a visit by Imelda Marcos, First Lady of The Philippines, though she ultimately decided not to wear them as Mao disapproved. In North Korea we have seen the establishment of a Marxist political dynasty, complete with mystical folklore and even in Vietnam there was once talk of the current regime as a sort of new “Ho dynasty” (there was an actual one though it produced only two emperors) and at times have been efforts to portray successive presidents (who are not always the real rulers of the country) as some sort of reincarnation of Ho Chi Minh who has been raised to mythic, near god-like status. In the show, it is also interesting to note that the egalitarian, socialist policies of the Chinese Federation are implied to be praiseworthy but also shown to be quite ineffective with the federation being a generally impoverished country. We also see the monarchy being portrayed in a rather positive way with the little empress being a good, just and kind-hearted girl but who is being held prisoner by her corrupt and traitorous attendants. Similarly, while Emperor Charles of Britannia is certainly the main villain of the piece, we see that not everyone in the Imperial Family is so cruel, though there are those who are, if anything, even more devious.
In the end, from a monarchist perspective, I found nothing too objectionable about it. The setting and nature of the series tends to make me more tolerant since it is all so ‘make believe’ and detached from the real world. As stated at the outset, I found it an engrossing and entertaining show, intelligent, with plenty to “chew on” (as I like to describe such things), giving viewers much to ponder, discuss and debate whether one agrees or disagrees with any particular aspect or premise. If you are open to this sort of thing and not put off by all things anime (there is fan service, giant robots and at least one ‘magical girl’ so this is as ‘anime’ as it gets) then I would recommend watching it if you can. Whether you come away liking or disliking it, I think it will at least prove stimulating. If you are as twisted as I am you might even find yourself thinking that the Holy Britannian Empire doesn’t sound so bad in some ways but then, that should probably be cause for concern. Some characters will impress you, some will frustrate you, some will make you laugh (*cough* Lloyd *cough*), and some will make you sympathetic. And, if in spite of all their horrible deeds, you hear Emperor Charles’ speech and jump up shouting with the crowd, “ALL HAIL BRITANNIA!” then you just might be a … Mad Monarchist.